"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Memphis with Mannequin

Friday,August 26, 2011:  We took a quick trip west to Memphis today to catch a show by Jack's Mannequin for the second time this year.  It was supposed to be a double-billing with another one of our favorite bands, Augustana, but they had to pull out of the tour for some reason recently.  But with tickets bought and hotel room already booked, we weren't discouraged and knew it would still be worth the effort.  We got a good price through Hotwire.com on a nice room at the swanky Madison Hotel downtown on their 13th floor (I thought they didn't do "13th" floors in hotels due to superstition?).

Ashlee enjoying her strawberry and pomegranate margarita on the roof of the lovely  Madison Hotel in downtown Memphis with the Mississippi River, Mud Island and the Hernando de Soto Bridge in the background.  The weather was perfect this late afternoon-early evening before the show down on nearby Beale Street.

I opted for a pale ale draught from new local craft brewer, Ghost River Brewing.  This rooftop patio is the same one used in the beginning of the film "The Firm" where Mitch has his welcome reception with Bendini, Lambert & Locke.  Thanks to Ashlee for the snapping the picture and for assuring me that our current dieting is definitely paying off!

The stroll down and back up famous Beale Street from our hotel to The New Daisy Theatre for the concert was colorful, loud and always interesting.

This was our first visit to this Beale Street venue and we really liked it.  A large general admission standing area with good sight lines in front of an elevated stage, optional balcony seating and superb acoustics. We would love to see more shows here in the future. 

This view from the balcony of The New Daisy Theatre as Jack's Mannequin is playing shows there just isn't a bad "seat" in the house.  We watched all of the show from down on the floor about 10 rows from the stage.  Opening for JM, was Lady Danville, a trio of lads from California with a very good sound quite similar to another of our favorite bands, Guster.  Their 3-part harmony  was spot on. Lead singer, Andrew McMahon and the rest of Jack's Mannequin followed with a show that was as good if not better than  the one we saw up in Asheville, NC, last month.  McMahon's energy on stage  is so fun to watch and can be quite addictive, not to mention inspirational (don't forget the dude recently beat leukemia). See the video below for some quick evidence of the fact.  They recently announced a show in Nashville in October and we hope to catch them for a third time this year if no conflicts arise.

After the show, we grabbed a quick bite of food on Beale Street and headed back to The Madison to check out that fabulous rooftop again at night.  The views were just as, if not more, stunning in the dark as the city sparkled below us.  Only a few people were taking advantage of the cool evening temps and lovely views up on the roof.  It was a nice respite from the roaring din of Beale Street and a relaxing way to end our half day in Memphis.

Saturday, August 27, 2011:  After sleeping a good bit of the morning away (I did get up a little earlier than Ashlee and took a dip in the very nice lap pool in The Madison's basement), we packed up our stuff and got ready to head back to Nashville because our friend, Wayne, had invited us to the Tennessee Titans third preseason game tonight vs. the Chicago Bears.  Before leaving Memphis, we did swing by our favorite new place to eat, Uncle Lou's Famous Fried Chicken, and had a great lunch.  Three drumsticks with the hot Sweet Spicy Love Sauce for Ashlee and four huge chicken tenders for me with the milder sauce (yeah, I know, what a wimp!).  We met Wayne at Suzy Wong's House of Yum in downtown Nashville before the game for a fun and festive dinner.  The game was quite enjoyable and the weather couldn't have been more perfect.  The Titans even eked out a 14-13 win.  Not bad for a game that doesn't even count.  Thanks to Wayne for the invitation and for snapping the great picture of us three above.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Thursday, August 18, 2011 - After having a great trip out to The Outer Banks of North Carolina back in late June, we took advantage of the same great airfare sale from Nashville to Norfolk, VA ($39 each way on Southwest) and drove south for another visit in hopes of grabbing more beach time than we actually did on our first trip.  We found a great little inexpensive but clean motel right on the beach near the tiny town of Buxton, just a mile or so from the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

The Outer Banks Motel sits right in the westwardly dog-leg turn of Highway 12 as you head south. 

The bungalow-style rooms of the motel were spacious and did not smell of mildew as some lower-priced beach-side places can.  They have a nice large swimming pole as well. The beach out front was clean and fairly uncrowded most of the time despite there being no vacancies for the weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2011 - It is just a 5-minute walk across Highway 12 to a finger of the Pamlico Sound where the motel had two rowboats tied up for their guests to use.  We took a beautiful sunset trip on our first full day there.

We took a stroll south on Hwy. 12 after our rowboat ride on the sound and found The Diamond Shoals Restaurant quite by accident.  We have been dieting as of late and keeping our caloric intake down, so we settled for a  couple small dinner options.  Fresh sushi rolls for Ashlee and fresh lightly-fried grouper fingers for me.  Both we excellent and despite a bit of slow service (they were slammed on a Friday night and only had one guy rolling sushi), we thoroughly enjoyed our food.

We loved our beach time as we had perfect weather the three days we were there with warm but not humid temperatures, mostly sunny skies, and cool, but not cold water.  The surf was tremendous with sometimes 6 and 7-foot waves breaking off from huge rolling swells.  You really had to pay attention while wading in the surf so as to not get knocked off your feet by a sneaky wave.  Swimming was a fun challenge as well with waves breaking over you and riptides pulling your slowly north.

Saturday, August 20 - We took a break from the beach this afternoon and drove a half hour south (plus a 30-minute ferry ride) to Ocracoke Island.  The tiny village there reminds us a lot of a smaller, quieter Key West.  We rented a couple of bikes and tooled around the quiet neighborhoods and pretty waterfront with very little motor traffic to have to contend with.  Editor's Note:  The island was evacuated the following week due to the approach of Hurricane Irene.

After a couple hours of bike riding, we rewarded ourselves with a visit to Howard's Pub.  Their burgers were awesome...it didn't hurt that we were starving either.  And their beer list is amazing.  How they get such a wide variety of beer way down here on the end of The Outer Banks and charge reasonable prices for them is beyond me.  After getting back to Buxton and enjoying some more beach time, we ambled our way back down to The Diamond Shoals Restaurant for another round of sushi and grouper fingers (a double order for me this time).

Sunday, August 21 - We reluctantly packed up our stuff this morning for our trip back north to catch our plane home early on Monday morning.  Before we left, we took a nice long walk south on the beach and soaked up as much of the vibe of the beautiful ocean as we could.

On our drive back north we stopped in Kill Devil Hills for a brief visit of The Wright Brothers National Monument.  We climbed the famous Kill Devil Hill where the Wrights tested their aircraft.  The views atop the hill are impressive in all directions.  The hill is  also adorned with a beautiful and gigantic monument honoring their achievement.  The life-size statues depicting the first flight help add to the sense realism for this historic place.

We flew back early Monday morning, August 22nd, without incident and were back at work by 10 A.M.  It was another great trip to The Outer Banks, and we are already planning a return visit hopefully next year with plans of visiting even farther south to the Cape Lookout area.

Editorial Note:  Just a week later the Outer Banks and much of the East Coast were battered by Hurricane Irene. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

An Ode to the Toad

Saturday, August 13, 2011 - We took in the surprisingly sold-out show of 90's hit-makers, Toad the Wet Sprocket,  at The Mercy Lounge in downtown Nashville tonight.  Despite not having a new record out in over 15 years (they've got a new one set to drop next year), lead singer/songwriter Glen Phillps, and the rest of the original four-piece band are in top form, and gave us a great two hours of music including all of their hits, some fan favorites that never made it to the radio (man, "Brother" is such a great song), plus some new tunes that sound very good.  The crowd was older than we usually see out at The Mercy Lounge.  "Trying to relive their prom" as Ashlee put it.  A couple behind us, for example, was from Illinois and had just dropped their son off for his freshman year at college at nearby Murray State before heading down to the show.  Time marcheth on.

We had a nice, memorable evening leading up to the show as well including dinner at the always-delicious Urban Flats, a beer out on the patio of the new Yazoo Brewing Taphouse on Division Street (the weather was perfect for this with low humidity and a nice breeze not typical around here in mid-August) and finally the unintended "Lobster Hunt 2011."  It seems that Ashlee needed live lobsters for her supper club meet-up the following day and we had to go to three different upscale supermarkets before we found any (and those were hidden behind a counter because supposedly Carrie Underwood found it "inhumane."  Good grief.).  But we got 'em and packed them in a cooler for the evening before their fateful day on the grill.  RIP, good soldiers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Lots of fun on a Tuesday night in Nashville..thanks to our friends, Ryan and Tom for meeting us for the show: